Today is National Hugging Day. I know this because it’s listed on Jude’s school calendar next to a graphic of Snoopy hugging Woodstock. So it’s totally legit.
I’m looking at you, National Chocolate Cake Day.
I was reading an article earlier today that indicated people need four hugs a day for survival, eight hugs a day for maintenance, and twelve hugs a day for growth. Jude is my official hugging partner, but he’s at the age where he sometimes says, “I already hugged you,” if I ask for too many. Even the cats are like, “Really??” So basically, I’m barely surviving.
In thinking about all of this, I could not help but wonder how many hugs the average person gives and or receives in average day. I tried asking the general question on FB, but the results were inconclusive. One friend enjoys a significant amount of hugs, one asked if his dog counted (um, YES), and another said he didn’t get enough hugs (though he does love them). So clearly–and shockingly–this wasn’t the most scientific approach. And I’m still left wondering.
There are plenty articles out there about the benefits of hugging, just like the one I referenced earlier. So yeah, hugs feel good and they are good and they make your life infinitely better. But why don’t we hug one another enough? Is it the touching? The intimacy? The worry that we’ll be rejected? The fact that we take each other for granted too often and thus end up skipping the hug?
Back in July, I posted the following:
“When I dropped Jude off at school today, two of his friends ran toward him and gave him the biggest, most enthusiastic hugs. Wouldn’t everything in the world be better if we never stopped doing that with each other?”
I was interested in taking a picture of our hug. He was interested in a selfie.
So, I guess it’s been on my mind for a while, and today, on the huggingest of all holidays, I’m reminded that I just don’t get or give enough hugs in the course of my day. If I had to self-diagnose, I’d say my biggest impediment is that I’m an anxiety-filled lover of people, simultaneously craving human interaction while also being terrified of it. And since I’m woefully behind the daily recommended dose of hugs, I will have to find away to amend the problem*.
At least I know that tonight, after he’s bathed and relaxed for a bit, Jude will ask me to cuddle him in his chair, something we’ve been doing since he was an infant. We’ll read and then sing “In My Life,” which he’s retitled “You More,” and then he’ll hug me and his sweetheart, Minnie Mouse, until he falls asleep. And then I’ll sit there long after he starts to snore, soaking up the extra-long hug for as long as I can, hoping that the sheer length and depth of it will make up for all the lost connections of the day.
*There are some hugs I do not like to receive**. They include:
1. The stinky hug. If someone is stinky, I just can’t. Maybe I’m a jerk, but I am just paranoid about how I smell and thus, would like to avoid the transfer of stink where possible.
2. The weak hug. This is someone who barely makes an effort to hug you by remaining stiff or refusing to move their arms or lean in to the hug. It just makes me feel weird.
3. The hug and lift. A hug is a hug. Why anyone feels the need to lift the person they’re hugging, I’ll never understand. As a short person, I hate this. Hug = yes, please. Lift = stop it.
4. The over-hug. This is the opposite of the weak hug. It is given by someone who is so uncomfortable with hugging that s/he overcommits by pressing her/his body uncomfortably against yours or just doesn’t know where to put the arms or can’t determine the appropriate squeeze ratio. The result is strange for everybody involved.
5. The never-ending hug. A nice, long hug is good. It’s great even. But in some circumstances, an extra-lengthy hug is just too much, particularly when I start to let go and then realize the hug is still happening, forcing me to re-hug just as the other person feels my pulling away and attempts to stop the hug just as I re-commit.
**Maybe this is my real problem.